The tributes to R.B. Greaves started popping up on Facebook late this afternoon, while I was off the grid. The smooth R&B singer was 68 when he died last week in Los Angeles.
His self-titled LP from 1970, the one with “Take A Letter, Maria” on it, was among the first big bunch of records I bought when I got back into collecting vinyl a few years ago. It was part of a haul of 20 records for $20 from the $1 record boxes in the tent in my friend Jim’s back yard.
I wrote about that record from time to time, and I’m glad I did so while Greaves was still with us.
Twice, it was to share his cover of “Always Something There To Remind Me.” Most recently, it was to celebrate the songs of Hal David, the great lyricist, something I did not do while David was still with us.
The first time, it was after I’d accidentally erased a small audio clip of our son’s voice, recorded before his voice changed. That was four years ago, and somehow, I still remember what that little boy’s voice sounded like. Maybe writing that post about a little bit of innocence lost helped to preserve it in my head.
Once, though, it was a deep cut from that self-titled LP, which despite that familiar hit single summons up a bunch of little mysteries.
“This is Soul,” R.B. Greaves, from “R.B. Greaves,” 1970.
One such mystery is why this fine little upbeat slice of Muscle Shoals soul wasn’t ever released as a single.
I also have R.B. Greaves’ second album, also self-titled, which was released on Bareback Records in 1977. It’s full of pleasant enough but unremarkable mid-’70s pop-R&B. The 1970 LP is the only one you really need to have.